The report highlights SDG 16 as a cornerstone of the 2030 Agenda as peaceful and inclusive societies, access to justice, and effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions are “critical threshold conditions” for democracy and sustainable development.
It calls on countries around the world to “focus far more attention and resources on achieving Goal 16” by preventing “democratic decline,” protecting human rights, and providing access to justice.
The SDG16 Data Initiative – a collective project by a consortium of organizations seeking to support the open tracking of the global commitments on peace, justice, and strong institutions – published its sixth annual report, which identifies positive and negative trends on, and assesses the likelihood of achieving, SDG 16 targets.
The report highlights SDG 16 as a cornerstone of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as peaceful and inclusive societies, access to justice, and effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions are “critical threshold conditions” for democracy and sustainable development.
The publication notes that official data used within the global SDG indicator framework have “important limitations” as many indicators “do not offer comprehensive time-series measures and often do not directly correspond with their underlying concepts.” Therefore, the SDG16 Data Initiative seeks to complement official data sources by using non-official data to help identify unaddressed challenges in data quality, availability, and coverage, to better track progress towards SDG 16.
The report highlights COVID-19-related difficulties with capacity development and data collection experienced both by states and UN institutions with official monitoring and evaluation mandates. This, it argues, increases the importance of global cooperation towards collaborative burden sharing related to data collection and management and trend analysis.
Issued at a halfway point in SDG implementation, the report assesses progress towards SDG 16 targets, and offers recommendations for conceptual orientation, monitoring and evaluation, and strategic agenda setting in a global context. Its chapters, each written by experts from partner organizations within the SDG16 Data Initiative, highlight issues relating to SDG 16 implementation and progress, including:
- Using data to explore synergies among the SDGs for effective data and trend analysis, as well as for effective sustainable development policymaking;
- Assessing progress on access to information and fundamental freedoms, which, trends indicate, is “weak”;
- Challenges associated with access to justice and the rule of law, including gaps in measurement of access to dispute resolution and unmet justice needs due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Multiple flat or negative trends on indicators measuring progress towards inclusive, accountable, and democratic governance; and
- Challenges with significantly reducing lethal violence, particularly in fragile, conflict-affected countries and in societies experiencing high homicide rates.
The report concludes that progress is “arguably very weak” on all the seven targets it assesses, namely: SDG 16.1 (Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere); 16.3 (Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels, and ensure equal access to justice for all); 16.4 (Significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime); 16.5 (Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms); 16.6 (Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels); 16.7 (Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels); and SDG 16.10 (Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements).
The report underscores that given the centrality of the values represented in SDG 16 to achieving the 2030 Agenda as a whole, failure to reach this Goal poses wider challenges for sustainable development, and calls on countries around the world to “focus far more attention and resources on achieving Goal 16” by preventing “democratic decline,” protecting human rights, and providing access to justice.
SDG16 Data Initiative partners launched the report on 17 November 2022. [Publication: SDG16 Data Initiative Report 2022: Are We on Track to Meeting the 2030 Agenda?]